Survey of Infection Preventionists Reveals Education Needs

We conducted a survey of ICT readers to better understand the education needs of infection preventionists.

Editor's note: To view a slide show highlighting results from this December 2011 ICT cover story, CLICK HERE.

By Kelly M. Pyrek

In their pre-flight instructions, in case of a loss of cabin pressure and use of oxygen masks is required, flight attendants remind passengers to first don their oxygen masks before helping others with theirs. A parallel may be drawn between this scenario and the need for infection preventionists to tend to their professional development and education needs before they can properly instruct other healthcare workers. We conducted a survey of ICT readers to better understand the education needs of infection preventionists; here are the results:

Where are you based?
Hospital: 97% 
Ambulatory surgery center: 2% 
Long-term care facility: 3% 
Other acute-care facility: 2% 
Other outpatient facility: 4%

How long have you been in infection prevention?
1-5 years: 30% 
6-10 years: 15% 
11-15 years: 19% 
16-20 years: 20% 
More than 20 years: 16% 

How important to you is lifelong learning and professional development?
Very important: 98% 
Somewhat important: 2% 
Not important: 0%

On average, how often do you engage in some kind of educational activity for yourself? 
Daily: 29% 
Weekly: 40% 
Monthly: 17% 
Quarterly: 15% 
Annually: 4%

How up to date do you think you are on infection prevention policy and practice? 
Very up to date: 55% 
Somewhat up to date: 45% 
Somewhat behind: 1% 
Significantly behind: 1%

In which area of practice do you need the most ongoing education?
Clinical practice relating to infection prevention: 36% 
Legal and regulatory issues relating to infection prevention: 47% 
Standards compliance: 29% 
Surveillance and epidemiology: 29% 
Infection prevention policy and practice: 28% 
Other: 9%
Some of the "other" topics that survey participants mentioned included:
- Microbiology-related issues
- MDRO management
- Disinfection and sterilization challenges
- Challenges related to culture changes    
- Infection control product evaluation

What are the biggest barriers to meeting your education and professional development needs?
Lack of time/too big of a workload:75% 
Lack of funding/resources: 43% 
Lack of quality education offerings: 12% 
Other: 6%  
Some of the "other" topics that survey participants mentioned included:
      - Lack of scientific evidence for many practices   
      - Lack of practical application   
      - Too many changes at once   

What is your preferred method of education for yourself?
Self-study module: 39% 
Webinar: 50% 
In-person seminar or conference: 49% 
Other: 2% 
Some of the "other" topics that survey participants mentioned included:
     - Researching and reading infection prevention journals
     - Staying current with infection prevention news   
Do you regularly seek continuing education to meet your nursing license requirements?
Yes: 78% 
No: 23%  

Who usually pays for your education and training needs?
Me: 27% 
My facility: 26% 
Combination of both: 49%

Do you think that most education opportunities are affordable?
Yes: 50% 
No: 50%

What are the criteria that must be met in order for you to pay for an education offering?
Good value for the money: 11% 
Appropriate and relevant content: 15% 
Convenient time/location/format: 11% 
All of the above: 88% 
Other: 2%

What is your preferred method for attending a webinar?
Participation during the live event: 53% 
Participation during the archived/on-demand event: 50% 

Do you use Webinars as a teaching opportunity or in-service by gathering staff together?
Yes, usually: 22% 
No: 24% 
Sometimes: 55%

In which area of practice do healthcare workers require the most education and training?
Hand hygiene:13% 
Environmental cleaning: 18% 
PPE use: 16% 
Aseptic technique: 9% 
All of the above: 69% 
Other: 6%
Some of the "other" areas of practice that survey participants mentioned included:
 - Isolation precautions   
- Vaccination compliance
- Transmission-based precautions
- Control of MDROs and antibiotic stewardship   
- Emergency preparedness and surge capacity   
- Management of workload

Do you believe the marketplace currently provides an adequate choice of educational and professional development offerings?
Yes: 54% 
No: 47%  

How important is it to you to educate healthcare workers about infection prevention? 
Very important: 100% 
Somewhat important: 0% 
Not important: 0% 

Do you conduct infection prevention in-services?
Yes: 96% 
No: 5% 

 If yes, how often do you conduct in-services?
Weekly: 10% 
Monthly: 41% 
Quarterly: 28% 
Annually: 26% 

What do you think is the best way to educate healthcare workers about infection prevention?
Via written materials: 9% 
Via in-services and classroom learning: 16% 
Via group activities: 18% 
All of the above: 66% 
Other: 12%
Some of the "other" ways that survey participants mentioned included:
- One-on-one as the moment presents   
- Infection prevention rounds -- visiting units, staff meetings, etc.   
- Webinars
- Demonstrations and other forms of interactive learning   
- Workshops
- Videos

Do you believe that more manufacturers should offer education and training opportunities:
On their products and services: 47% 
On general infection prevention: 71% 

How well do you think you are able to put what you have learned into practice?
Very well: 57% 
Somewhat well: 45% 
Not well: 1% 

What are the barriers to putting what you've learned into practice?

Resources and workload barriers: 40%
Financial barriers: 40%   
Leadership barriers: 10%
Culture-change barriers: 10%